Ownership profile won't stay low


Broadcast hearings on Capitol Hill, no matter which aspect of the industry they are addressing, tend to be a hot ticket. Strong opinions rein, with high profile members of the broadcast management often clashing with even higher profile members of the artistic community, while academics and watchdogs weigh in with equally strong opinions. The politicians themselves eagerly throw themselves into the fray, often using the spotlight accompanying these events to further their own political goals.

Then campaign time comes around and you don’t hear a word about any of it. That’s been the tendency, anyway, up until now, but it is appearing that those days are over. With 20+ candidates vying for two presidential nominations, the media has become an issue, and more and more candidates are staking out a position.

The latest is Joe Biden (D-DE). We doubt that anybody following this issue will be surprised to learn he’s against it.

Biden said, "The Federal Communications Commission’s plan to lift its anti-monopoly regulations could have dangerous consequences. If this plan goes forward, two or three media conglomerates could end up controlling every broadcast medium in the country. From a safety perspective, what happens if one company controls the television, radio and internet services in a region and its servers go down during a natural disaster or terrorist attack? From a constitutional perspective, what happens when one company owns all of the airwaves in an area and it refuses to broadcast certain content? These are important security and constitutional issues best addressed by keeping the current rules in place."

RBR/TVBR observation: Say what? We are aware that there are differing views on media ownership regulation among our own readership, and we take no official position on the matter. That said, we have to ask, what plan? Martin has offered no plan of any kind. The Las Vegas line on his intentions, as near as we can tell, is that Martin would be satisfied to ease print/broadcast cross-ownership rules and leave everything else pretty much alone, but that is pure speculation and the simple answer is that nobody beyond of the FCC’s 8th Floor knows what the plan is. But it certainly won’t lead to a broadcast monopoly for anybody. So the two things to remember are, first, that politicians are now paying attention to what used to be considered arcane, inside-baseball broadcast issues, and second, they often don’t have the slightest idea what they’re talking about.